Austin warns Chinese counterpart against actions on Taiwan in first meeting
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned his Chinese counterpart that Beijing must “refrain from further destabilizing actions toward Taiwan” during their first face-to-face meeting on Friday.
Austin met with Gen. Wei Fenghe, China’s minister of national defense, on the sidelines of the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, according to a statement from the Pentagon.
Austin reiterated that the “U.S. remains committed to our longstanding one China policy, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the Three U.S.-China Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances,” the department said.
“The Secretary reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability across the Strait, opposition to unilateral changes to the status quo, and called on the PRC to refrain from further destabilizing actions toward Taiwan,” it added.
Tensions grown between the U.S. and China over Taiwan, and Washington’s fears have only increased amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Under the “One China” policy, the U.S. does not recognize Taiwan as a separate state from China, and the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 commits the U.S. to providing Taiwan with arms for its defense.
During his first trip to Asia as president in May, President Biden stoked tensions when we said that the U.S. would be willing to defend Taiwan if China tried to invade. Two days later, China conducted a military drill near Taiwan.
The Wall Street Journal reported last month that the defense chiefs were planning to meet during the dialogue, though nothing had been set in stone.
Austin and Wei last spoke to each other by phone in April, which was the first conversation between the two officials.
In addition to Taiwan, Wei and Austin discussed “global and regional security issues,” including North Korea and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Pentagon said.
The Pentagon chief “discussed the need to responsibly manage competition and maintain open lines of communication,” the Pentagon said.
“The Secretary underscored the importance of the People’s Liberation Army engaging in substantive dialogue on improving crisis communications and reducing strategic risk,” it added.